Monica Piera Miquel, “Los artesanos del mueble en Barcelona a finales de siglo XVIII: el espacio domestico,” Familias, recursos humanos y vida material, 161-179.
This article focuses on the furniture architects of Barcelona in the late eighteenth century, specifically their socio-economic status, genealogy, and what resources they used in their work. Miquel used notarical death inventories to make this examination of these individual’s lives. It is a fascinating glimpse into how much information can be pulled from a death inventory – a resource often overlooked by genealogists, and how, by comparing the description of goods, an accurate look into the socio-economic status, possible family size, and the priorities of the deceased individual can be ascertained.
They found that the majority of the artisans owned their own studio, usually attached to their house. They were evenly distributed throughout the city, and lived near major roads. The size of their houses varied, and based on the amount of property made up a mixed socio-economic class. Miquel made a specific note of the amounts of beds in the property, and how many were in every rooms, as well as furniture designed for children. Few homes mentioned furniture like this that indicated the artisans had large families.
Not only were the number of beds or similar furniture examined, but so were the types mentioned. Miquel defined the different types of beds, giving descriptions and showing how they indicated wealth. She repeated this for various other types of furniture, showing a large variation in the amount of elaborate decorations amount the artisans.
Most of the cutlery the artisans owned was made of brass, indicating the men likely couldn’t afford silverware. There were hardly any furnishings that served purely for decoration, although in each case there was an abundance of religious objects – both paintings, icons, and crucifixes.
In all, she found that very few of these carpenters possessed the same quality of goods that they created. Most live modestly, in contrast to their clients. Even on the modest scale, few incorporated the intricate design work they were qualified to produce into their own homes, indicating that they cared more about presenting their shops well than their own houses.